The above caption is commonly used especially in reference to another, but it is very difficult when it comes to one self. However, it is possible that we all go through phases of self-denial where we indirectly and, at times, directly refuse to acknowledge a situation. More recently this was revealed to me in a sermon I was preparing some time ago on the Apostle Peter. Within days, it would be repeated through a book that I purchased recently titled Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima.
What Is a Denial?
Denial is realization of a potential problem or problems which one fails to admit or own up to. Recall the encounter of Jesus with Peter in Luke 22:31-34. Jesus revealed to Peter that he would deny Him not just once but three times, but Peter in response to Jesus said, “I am ready to go both to prison and to death” (verse 33). While Peter failed to see himself and his vulnerability, it was not hard for Jesus to see; for Peter operated from a sense of false assumptions, believing that he knew himself and his ability. The same could be said of you and me. So essentially, it is necessary that we understand what Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima refer to as our dark side: A side of us that we do not recognize or seem unwilling to accept.
Understanding My Dark Side
According to McIntosh and Rima, “the dark side refers to our inner urges, compulsions, motivations, and dysfunctions that drive us toward success or undermine our accomplishments.” They continue, “Over a lifetime of experiences,” our dark side “is often revealed in moments of frustration or anger.” Yet they contend, “The dark side is a normal development of life and can be an agent for both good and bad in our lives.” Truth be told parents, teachers, leaders in and outside the church inclusive of elders, preachers, directors, officers and presidents are affected by it.
As such it is necessary to recognize when something is driving us and driving us beyond reason, beyond the advice of those who mean us well (i.e. spouse, colleagues and friends), to the extent that we are willing to compromise or put personal interest in front of the church. A failure to confront my dark side may lead to my crossing “the line and experience a down hill,” as in the case of Gordon McDonald, Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart.
Getting Help for My Dark Side
However, a desire to achieve should not be considered bad. Don’t we all aspire to be the best? We should! What is crucial is that we be open to evaluation and constructive criticisms by others. It is said that Evangelist Billy Graham has been successful, for he has subjected himself to the scrutiny of others. The same is reported of successful church leader Bill Hybel.
Systems within the Adventist Church may appear “to slow us down,” but they are there to protect us and prevent pitfalls. Systems at the local church include the Church Board and Business Meetings, etc. At the Mission/Conference and Union as well as General Conference levels, are the Executive Committee, evaluations and consultations. It is unreasonable to expect any board or committee membership to agree with the chairman on everything. Equally so, it is unfair to have a committee that opposes everything from a leader. Challenge to a position may lead us to see other sides that were not considered, or it may lead to seeing the value of the leader’s position. Be open to ways that God may lead, and if your position is shown to be faulty, adopt the attitude of Peter recorded in Luke 22:61, 62: “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said . . .Before the cock crow . . . thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly” (ASV). That is owning up!